By Spy Uganda
As a way of boosting research in medicinal cannabis, the Government of Uganda is in final stages of legalizing marijuana growing for mainly medical purposes, minister Sarah Opendi has revealed!
Spy Uganda has learnt that Cabinet has set up a subcommittee to conduct inquiries into a proposal of legalizing cannabis growing in the country.
According to State Minister for Health and General Duties, Sarah Opendi, the subcommittee is chaired by Prime Minister Ndugu Ruhakana Rugunda and is currently processing the proposal.
Opendi told the media that “Cabinet has discussed the matter extensively and a cabinet subcommittee chaired by Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda is in place to critically look at issues of enforcement and regulations. We are hopeful that early next year we should be able to receive a report from this cabinet subcommittee and thereafter we should be able to make a decision.”
It should be noted however that whereas the Ministry of Health says 14 companies have applied to acquire license to grow medical cannabis for export, media reports indicate that the number of individuals and private companies seeking licenses to grow and export marijuana for medical purposes has increased from 20 in April to 50 in July 2019, yet more applications are still coming in.
Among the companies competing to grow marijuana is Premier Hemp, which is owned by property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia.
It is said that government officials are also under pressure from various marijuana dealers and growers to explain why they allowed Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, a private company working with another Israeli-based cannabis firm to grow marijuana in Kasese, but and ‘frustrated’ others through ‘delaying tactics’. Industrial Hemp Ltd was given the license in 2016. A few months ago, Together Pharma Limited was also controversially issued a license to grow marijuana in Uganda.
However, Opendi said Industrial Hemp is growing marijuana in Kasese but it is controlled because it is grown in green houses (in-doors) to avoid people abusing the plant.
The government authorities and ministries that will be in charge of issuing licenses to marijuana growers include; Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Justice, Internal Affairs, National Drug Authority (NDA) and Uganda Investment Authority (UIA).
The National Drug Policy and Authority Act, 1993 provides that “No person shall, without the written consent of the Health Minister… cultivate any plant from which a narcotic drug can be extracted.” An example in this case is Marijuana.
But a recent report by the New Frontier Data, a UK-based authority in data analytics and business intelligence on the global cannabis industry, indicates that 2.6 Million Ugandans use marijuana and Uganda is 8th position among the top 10 countries in Africa that consume weed.
What is Medical Marijuana?
The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions.
According to World Health Organisation, several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.
For instance, dronabinol (tetrahydrocannabinol) has been available by prescription for more than a decade in the USA.
Other therapeutic uses of cannabinoids are being demonstrated by controlled studies, including treatment of asthma and glaucoma, as an antidepressant, appetite stimulant, anticonvulsant and anti-spasmodic.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognised or approved the marijuana plant as medicine even though scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form.
10 Most Common Conditions Medical Cannabis Is Prescribed For
Support of medicinal cannabis has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to the growing body of research that shows its therapeutic value for a range of health conditions. Cannabis may be able to treat or alleviate the symptoms of a variety of serious ailments, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and much more.
Not sure if medical cannabis is right for you? We’ve rounded up 10 of the most common conditions medical cannabis is prescribed for:
1. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms vary both in type and severity, but typically include pain, spasms, balance issues, tingling, vision problems and more. Research published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal found that cannabis based medicinal extracts can significantly reduce the spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis while having few adverse effects on patients.
2. Spinal Cord Injury
Caused by trauma to the spine, spinal cord injuries are known to affect motor skills and can potentially lead to total loss function in some parts of the body. Research suggests cannabis can help patients treat the pain and muscle spasms that are often symptomatic of a spinal cord injury, with investigators from the Oxford Centre for Enablement noting that “Cannabis medicinal extracts can improve neurogenic symptoms unresponsive to standard treatments.”
3. Spinal Cord Disease
The term ‘spinal cord disease’ refers to any spinal cord issues that develop for reasons other than trauma. Multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, syringomyelia and spinal stenosis can all be considered examples of spinal cord disease. Patients living with a spinal cord disease may find therapeutic value in using cannabis based medicine, thanks to cannabis’ ability to alleviate spasticity and pain – two of the most common symptoms associated with spinal cord disease.
Responsible for about 30 percent of all deaths, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, according to figures reported by the Canadian Cancer Society. While cannabis can’t cure cancer, it can drastically reduce the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life for patients. How? Well, research shows that both THC and CBD (two of the key active components found in cannabis) can stimulate appetite, which may help with the weight loss, anorexia and cachexia that many cancer patients experience. In addition, cannabis is very effective at combating the nausea caused by conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
HIV/AIDS treatment has come a long way over the last decade or so. While modern therapy allows those with HIV/AIDS to live a long and mostly healthy life, the side effects of the treatment can be challenging to deal with. This is where medicinal cannabis comes in. A number of studies show that medical cannabis can improve many HIV/AIDS-related symptoms, including anorexia, weight loss, severe nausea and more. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found 97 percent of HIV patients reported improved appetite with medical cannabis treatment, while 94 percent experienced reduced muscle pain and 93 percent reported improvements to both nausea and anxiety.
Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to the inflammation of a joint. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with some of the more common types including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms typically include swelling and redness around the joint, reduced range of motion, stiffness, weakness and severe, ongoing pain. It’s the latter symptom that cannabis is most effective at treating. In one study into the efficacy of cannabis as a form of pain relief for rheumatoid arthritis, researchers noted that “a significant analgesic effect was observed and disease activity was significantly suppressed”.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects almost 140,000 Canadians, according to data gathered by Statistics Canada. The disorder is characterized by seizures, which range from relatively mild (a moment of impaired concentration) to extreme (total loss of consciousness and awareness). Cannabis based medicines – and CBD-dominant products in particular – have proven to be very effective at reducing the frequency and severity of epilepsy seizures. With that said, medical cannabis should only be used in treatment resistant cases of seizures.
8. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The term ‘inflammatory bowel disease’ (IBD) describes disorders that result in inflammation of the digestive tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Research published in Digestion found that IBD patients experienced a variety of health benefits from using cannabis. Factors such as physical pain, social functioning, general health perception, ability to work and depression all saw notable improvement.
9. End of Life Care
Studies have shown that medicinal cannabis may also be an effective treatment option in palliative care, which could be vital in the years ahead as many nations come to terms with aging populations. Research published in Current Oncology found that medical cannabis could “provide further relief from distressing symptoms and spiritual suffering”, while improving patients’ overall quality of life.
Research indicates that both THC- and CBD-dominant cannabis based medicines offer effective therapy for a range of sleep disorders, including insomnia. Cannabis is thought to reduce sleep latency, induce drowsiness and improve quality of sleep.